Database: Glossary

This is a glossary of database-related terms.

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ActiveX Data Objects (AD0) - an API from Microsoft that lets a programmer writing Windows applications access a database.

autonomous transaction - in Oracle's database products, an independent transaction that is initiated by another transaction.

block - in some databases, the smallest amount of data that a program can request.

B-tree - a method of placing and locating files in a database.

catalog - a directory of information about data sets, files, or a database.

commit - the final step in the successful completion of a previously started database change.

CSV file (comma-separated values file) - contains the values in a table with each column value separated by a comma and each row starting a new line.

DAO (Data Access Objects) - API available with Visual Basic that lets a programmer request access to an Access database.

data - information that has been translated into a form that is more convenient to move or process.

data availability - assurance that data continues to be available at a required level of performance in any situation.

data dictionary - a collection of descriptions of the data objects or items in a data model for the benefit of programmers and others who need to refer to them.

data modeling - the analysis of data objects and the identification of the relationships among these data objects.

data mart - a repository of data gathered from operational data and other sources that is designed to serve a particular community of knowledge workers.

data mining - sorting through data to identify patterns and establish relationships.

data preprocessing - any type of process performed on raw data to prepare it for another processing procedure.

data scrubbing - the process of amending or removing data that is incorrect, incomplete, improperly formatted, or duplicated.

data set - in an IBM mainframe operating system, a named collection of data that contains individual data units formatted in a specific way.

data source name - a data structure that contains the information about a specific database that an ODBC driver needs in order to connect to it.

data warehouse - a central repository for all or significant parts of the data that an enterprise's various business systems collect.

database - a collection of data that is organized so that its contents can easily be accessed, managed, and updated.

DBA - someone who directs or performs all activities related to maintaining a successful database environment.

DBMS - a program that lets one or more computer users create, manage, and access data in a database.

DB2 - a family of relational database management system (RDBMS) products from IBM that serve a number of different operating system platforms.

DDBMS (distributed database management system) - a centralized application that manages a distributed database as if it were all stored on the same computer.

distributed database - a database whose components are stored on multiple computers within a network.

field - a location for a single piece of data in a database.

FileMaker - a relational database application known for being easy to use and for its ability to serve Web pages dynamically.

flat file - a database model that stores data in text files that can only be accessed sequentially.

foreign key - a key that targets a primary key in another table.

E. F. Codd - IBM programmer responsible for developing the conceptual framework for the relational database and SQL.

HOLAP - hybrid online analytical processing, a combination of ROLAP and MOLAP.

Java Data Objects - an API that enables a Java programmer to access a database implicitly, without having to make explicit SQL statements.

Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) - an API specification for connecting programs written in Java to the data in popular databases.

JOLAP (Java Online Analytical Processing) - a Java API for J2EE for data in an online analytical processing (OLAP) application.

metabase - a database for storing metadata (data that describes data) for a specific purpose.

MOLAP (multidimensional online analytical processing) - online analytical processing (OLAP) that indexes directly into a multidimensional database.

mySQL - an open source relational database management system that uses SQL.

normalization - a multi-stage process of organizing data into tables in such a way that the results of using the database are always unambiguous and as intended.

OODBMS (object-oriented database management system) - a DBMS that supports the modelling and creation of data as objects.

OLAP (online analytical processing) - computer processing that enables a user to easily and selectively extract and view data from different points-of-view.

ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) - open standard API for accessing a database.

operational data store (ODS) - a type of database often used as an interim area for a data warehouse.

pivot table - a program tool that allows you to reorganize and summarize selected columns and rows of data in a spreadsheet or database table to obtain a desired report.

PL/SQL - a procedural language extension to SQL used to combine database language and procedural programming language.

primary key - a key in a relational database that is unique for each record, used to identify a particular record.

quad tree - a method of placing and locating files in a database.

query - a request to a database for information, or to update, modify, or delete information.

relational database - a database organized as a set of formally-described tables from which data can be accessed or reassembled in many different ways without having to reorganize the tables.

RDBMS (relational database management system) - a program that lets you create, update, and administer a relational database.

ROLAP (relational online analytical processing) - a form of OLAP that performs dynamic multidimensional analysis of data stored in a relational database.

rollback - the undoing of partly completed database changes when a database transaction is determined to have failed.

row - a group of fields in a database table organized to contain all the information relevant to a specific entity.

schema - the organization or structure for a database.

splay tree - a self-adjusting search algorithm for placing and locating files in a database.

SQL (Structured Query Language) - a standard interactive and programming language for getting information from and updating a database.

SQLJ - a set of programming extensions that allow a programmer using the Java programming language to embed statements that provide SQL database requests.

TSQL - programming extensions that add several features to SQL including transaction control, exception and error handling, row processing, and declared variables.

table - in a relational database, a data structure that organizes the information about a single topic into rows and columns.

tree structure - an algorithm for placing and locating records in a database.

UDA (Universal Data Access) - a model or framework for a single uniform API to different software makers' databases.

VLDB (very large database) - sometimes used to describe databases occupying magnetic storage in the terabyte range and containing billions of table rows.

view - a temporary organization of data drawn from one or more tables to enable a specific perspective.

To learn more, see our guide, Learn IT: Unleashing the Power of the Database.

This was first published in June 2006

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